June 8, 2018 / 8:36 PM / in 2 months

Explosion kills at least one in Iraq's Kirkuk - sources

KIRKUK, Iraq (Reuters) - At least one person was killed and 14 people were wounded when an improvised explosive device went off in the ethnically-mixed Iraqi oil city of Kirkuk, security and medical sources said late on Friday.

The bomb exploded in a crowded market area in the evening, a peak time for shopping during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. A second explosive device went off in another area of the city but caused no casualties, the sources said.

There was no immediate comment or official statement from Iraq’s security forces. Qatari-owned Al Jazeera and Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya both reported seven people were killed.

Tensions are high in Kirkuk, where the results of a parliamentary election in May are being disputed by the Turkmen and Arab communities after a Kurdish party appeared to have won.

In October, Iraqi forces backed by Shi’ite militias dislodged Kurdish Peshmerga fighters who had taken control of Kirkuk city in 2014. The Kurdish Peshmerga move had prevented the city’s capture by Islamic State militants who had overrun Iraqi army positions in northern and western Iraq.

The central government recaptured the city and its oilfields along with other areas in northern Iraq claimed by both Baghdad and the Kurds following an offensive launched in retaliation for a Kurdish independence referendum.

The return of the Iraqi army to Kirkuk was greeted with relief by the Arab and Turkmen populations there but the city’s Kurds accuse Iraqi government forces and Shi’ite militias of violations.

Islamic State militants have also carried out attacks in the city as well as other parts of Iraq in recent weeks and months.

Iraq declared victory over Islamic State in December. But security officials have said the hardline militant group is likely to wage an insurgency in Iraq after its self-proclaimed caliphate collapsed and the militants were dislodged from all the territory they held in the country.

Reporting by Mustafa Mahmoud; Writing by Ahmed Aboulenein; Editing by William Maclean

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